This chapter takes the form of a case study. It considers the reception given to the Swedish Lutheran Anders Nygren's well-known book Agape and Eros by a group of Englishmen, mostly Anglo-Catholics and one Roman Catholic, and secondly, as a more minor theme, the response of the Swiss Reformed theologian Karl Barth both to Nygren's work and incidentally also to the Catholic response to Nygren. I shall also consider the defence of Nygren offered to the English critics by the English Methodist and Lutheran scholar Philip Watson, who had studied with Nygren and who was to translate much of his work.
I hope in this chapter to accomplish a number of varied aims. In the first place, given that my own work is somewhat akin to motif research, it is good that I should consider the work of a leading advocate of the Scandinavian school of motif research, Anders Nygren. Motif research claimed to be purely historical, whereas I in this book wish to ask theoretical questions about how, within Christianity, the self should be conceptualised in relationship to God. Again, motif research claims to be neutral, though in fact Luther is always its hero. By contrast, in the course of this chapter not least, I wish to critique the Lutheran structure of thought. Motif research is, however, I believe very useful in distinguishing structures of thought. The misreadings of Nygren we shall consider show only too well how much it is needed.